Do I have to?
I don’t want to. Maybe I can pay someone to do it. OK, OK. I’ll do it! Um … Where do I start? At the beginning, right? I could have told me that.
It’s never a fun job, but you have to clean out the refrigerator now and then. So, let’s get to it!
First off, let’s get the stuff we need together.
- Trash container for all the stuff that will be thrown away.
- A Cooler (ice chest) with Ice to hold the contents while your cleaning. No point in having the good food spoil while your cleaning.
- Cleaning Cloths, paper towels or rags to wipe with.
- Non-abrasive cleaning agent. Dish soap will do.
- Create a homemade all-purpose cleaner by combining the following in a gallon of hot water: 1 cup clear ammonia, 1/2-cup vinegar and 1/4-cup baking soda. Pour into a spray bottle, or use from a bowl with a sponge. This no-rinse formula is a degreaser that prevents mold and mildew. Wipe down the entire refrigerator with this solution, including the drawers and shelves.
Ok. That was fun. Now let’s get started. First, put on the gloves. There’s no telling what you might find in (or under) there that you wouldn’t want to put your bare hands on, or in. Got the gloves on? Good!
Unplug the fridge from the power outlet. Now, move the fridge away from the wall. Move the trash bin up close to the box. Open the refrigerator door(s) and start unloading the contents. The stuff that is still good goes in the ice chest and the rest into the garbage container, obviously.
A good time to do this cleaning task would be before you stock up on groceries for the month … like when the fridge is close to empty. If you have children, that is probably anytime.
You’ve probably noticed a lot of dust bunnies on the floor where the box had been. Sweep them up and put them in the trash with the other bad stuff from inside the refrigerator. Dust bunnies are not cute and shouldn’t be kept as pets.
If your refrigerator has coils on the back of the box, clean them with a duster or rag. If the coils are under the box, you can access them by removing the front panel close to the floor. Use the vacuum for those.
Some boxes have a removable drip pan to catch the condensation. Use the light to look for it. Remove it, if there is one, and clean it out. You might be unpleasantly surprised at how dirty it is. Bleach can be your friend here.
OK. Now the inside of the box.
Remove the shelves and drawers. Set them aside. We’ll clean them later. Now you should have a wide open box … with all the gooey and yucky stuff that has accumulated over time visible and, fairly, easy to get to. Climb in, OK, not literally, just use a cloth and the cleaner you made to wipe the interior of the box down. Start at the top and wipe the “ceiling” first. You might not think it gets dirty, but stuff spatters up there too. A bit of rubbing will likely be needed for some areas. For stains, try a bit of toothpaste on the cloth. It is a mild abrasive and should help get the stains and other stuff out. Use a dry cloth to dry the interior.
When you have finished with the inside, close the door(s), plug the refrigerator back in and move it back in place.
Now, on to those shelves and drawers.
Use the cleaner you made to clean those. Dry them thoroughly. Use care when handling slippery glass shelving. Dish-washing gloves may be helpful to prevent breakage.
Now, put all the shelves and drawers back in the box. Note: You should get a thermometer and place in the box to check the temperature. The refrigerator area should be between 35 and 38 degrees. The freezer should be around zero degrees, but no more that 5 degrees. Put all the food back in and you are done … with the inside. Wasn’t that fun?
The outside is a bit easier. Start at the top and use the cleaner you made or some other mild soap. For stainless steel boxes, use a window cleaner or vinegar to keep it shiny. Be sure to clean the gasket on the door. The cleaner you made should be good for this. An old toothbrush can help with tight places and crevices.
Some say that car wax can be applied to the exterior to make it shiny and resist fingerprints. Others warn against this. There are appliance polishes and other such materials available. Check your local store for those.